“The overall premise of this bill is to ensure that we have a proper teacher pipeline going into the schools.”
– Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R- Wilkes, in response to questions about SB599 on House floor in Raleigh on June 26.
Senate Bill 599 is the bill (as Alex Granados from EdNC.org reports), that,
“allows organizations other than universities to operate educator preparation programs in North Carolina. The measure includes private, for-profit organizations. And while the bill passed the full House, it did not survive without debate” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/06/26/educator-preparation-bill-passes-house-returns-senate/).
What that means is that for-profit outfits can make money fast-tracking teacher candidates in a rather precarious preparation programs.
The original bill was introduced by Sen. Chad Barefoot who has shown himself to be the most recent poster child of the privatization movement in North Carolina’s public education system.
Granados further states,
Elmore explained that the bill was intended to increase the number of teachers coming into North Carolina schools. Schools of education in the state experienced a 30 percent drop in enrollment between 2010 and 2015.
So Rep. Elmore is explaining that we have a teacher shortage as seen by the drop in teacher candidates in our teacher preparation programs in the last 5-7 years?
Whatever or whoever could have put North Carolina in a situation that would create a teacher shortage in our public schools?
The answer is easy: the GOP majority in the North Carolina General Assembly.
The shortage of teacher candidates that schools of education have experienced is a symptom of a deeper problem. A bill like SB599 is a thinly veiled attempt to further allow for-profit companies like Texas Teachers of Tomorrow to take North Carolina tax money and place pseudo-qualified candidates into our classrooms.
Another jab at de-professionalizing a profession that the GOP majority in the NCGA has already de-professionalized to a large extent.
There are so many actions to deter teacher candidates taken by the current powers-that-be in a gerrymandered legislation that it would take Sen. Jerry Tillman’s two tracks of math curriculum to begin to count them, but here’s a flavor:
- Teacher Pay – We are still nowhere near the national average and when adjusted for inflation, salaries really have not risen for veteran teachers who are the glue of public education.
- Removal of due-process rights for new teachers – Teachers need to know that they can speak up against harsh conditions or bad policies without repercussions. Teachers who are not protected by due-process will not be as willing to speak out because of fear.
- Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed – Because advanced degree pay is abolished, many potential teachers will never enter the field because that is the only way to receive a sizable salary increase to help raise a family or afford to stay in the profession
- Standard 6 – In North Carolina, we have a teacher evaluation system that has an unproven record of accurately measuring a teacher’s effectiveness.
- Push for Merit Pay – The bottom line is that merit pay destroys collaboration and promotes competition. That is antithetical to the premise of public education. Not only does it force teachers to work against each other, it fosters an atmosphere of exclusivity and disrespect. What could be more detrimental to our students?
- “Average” Raises –If you divided the amount of money used in these “historic” raises by the number of teachers who “received” them, it would probably surprise people. Those raises were funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay.
- Health Insurance and Benefits – Simply put, health benefits are requiring more out-of-pocket expenditures, higher deductibles, and fewer benefits. Legislation just took away retirement health benefits for those who enter the profession after 2020.
- Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE) – Seen as a union and therefore must be destroyed, the North Carolina Association of Educators has been incredibly instrumental in bringing unconstitutional legislation to light and carrying out legal battles to help public schools.
- Revolving Door of Standardized Tests – Like other states, we have too many.
- Less Money Spent per Pupil – The argument that the GOP-led General Assembly have made repeatedly is that they are spending more on public education now than ever before. And they are correct. We do spend more total money now than before the recession hit. But that is a simplified and spun claim because North Carolina has had a tremendous population increase and the need to educate more students.
- Removal of Caps on Class Sizes – There is a suggested formula in allotting teachers to schools based on the number of students per class, but that cap was removed. House Bill 112 allowed the state to remove class size requirements while still allowing monies from the state to be allocated based on the suggested formula.
- Sacrificing of Specialties in Elementary Schools – To fulfill “class size” requirements that are now being talked about, many schools are having to decide if they will be able to offer arts and physical education classes.
- Jeb Bush School Grading System – This letter grading system used by the state literally shows how poverty in our state affects student achievement. What the state proved with this grading system is that it is ignoring the very students who need the most help — not just in the classroom, but with basic needs such as early childhood programs and health-care accessibility.
- Cutting Teacher Assistants – Fewer teacher assistants for early grades especially limit what can be accomplished when teachers are facing more cuts in resources and more students in each classroom.
- Opportunity Grants – These are vouchers. Opportunity Grant legislation is like the trophy in the case for the GOP establishment in Raleigh. It is a symbol of “their” commitment to school choice for low-income families. But that claim is nothing but a red-herring because there is no oversight. Read the report from the Children’s Law Center at Duke University and then take a look at the recent plea from an administrator at Trinity Christian in Fayetteville.
- Charter Schools – Charter school growth in North Carolina has been aided by the fact that many of the legislators who have created a favorable environment for charter benefit somehow, someway from them. Just ask Jason Saine. Many charters abuse the lack of oversight and financial cloudiness and simply do not benefit students.
- Virtual Schools – There are two virtual academies in NC. Both are run by for-profit entities based out of state. While this approach may work for some students who need such avenues, the withdrawal rates of students in privately-run virtual schools in NC are staggering according to the Department of Public Instruction.
- Achievement School Districts – Teach For America Alumnus and former Rep. Rob Bryan crafted a piece of legislation that has been rammed through the General Assembly which will create ASD’s in NC. Most egregious is that it was crafted secretly. Rather than having a public debate about how to best help our “failing” schools with our own proven resources, Rep. Bryan chose to surreptitiously strategize and plan a takeover of needy schools. ASD’s have not worked in Tennessee. They will not work in North Carolina except for those who make money from them.
- Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program – Once regarded as a model to recruit the best and brightest to become teachers and stay in North Carolina was abolished because of “cost”.
If Rep. Elmore wants to really help alleviate the teacher shortage, he might want to consider reversing course on the many policies and bills enacted in his three-term tenure before explaining how SB599 might be used to get more teacher candidates into our schools of education.
But he already knows that. Why?
Because Rep. Elmore is a public school teacher who was trained at a state supported school that at one time was the state’s “Teacher College” – Appalachian State University. He should know better.
Rep. Elmore was also a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. He should know better.
He was a past president of the Professional Educators of North Carolina. He should know better.
Just look at his website – http://www.jeffreyelmore.com/aboutjeffrey/.
But he’s also part of a political establishment. That’s Rep. Elmore standing next to Sen. Chad Barefoot.
Our state does not have the Teaching Fellows Program any longer.
It costs more for students to go to state supported universities because the state has not funded them to the same extent that they used to and the same lawmakers claim that spending less money on per pupil expenditures in traditional k-12 schools will not hurt students?
And they claim that they are wondering why North Carolina has a teacher shortage? And they want someone to profit from “fixing” it at the expense of tax payers and the over 90% of students in North Carolina who still attend traditional public schools and their magnets.
They know exactly why we have a teacher shortage. They created the teacher shortage.